Waste not, want not

What would I do with the emulsion left over from coating my glass plates?

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There was a small quantity of Silverprint SE1 emulsion mixed 5+1 with Photo Flo left over from coating my glass plates. All of the prepared plates had been coated and I didn’t want to waste the unused emulsion. My solution was to coat some paper which I could then use to make contact prints once the glass plates have been exposed and developed.

All that I needed was a goat’s hair Jaiban brush (no metal parts which might react with or contaminate the silver-based emulsion) which I found at a reasonable price in a local craft supplies store. I had a few sheets of The Langton art paper left over from a pad I’d bought some time ago and cut these down to give a border of about 1cm around a 5×4 glass plate. Everything else I already had from coating the glass plates.

In the darkroom I laid out my workspace while the emulsion was liquifying in a hot water bath. The ceramic feeding cup, kept warm in another water bath, has a wide enough opening to dip the brush into the emulsion. The cut paper was laid out on cardboard, just in case I got messy and then my shallow drawer unit where I would lay out the coated paper to dry, keeping it in the dark. The SE1 emulsion, being light sensitive, was not opened until everything was ready, the room light was off and the red safelight was on!

When brushed onto paper a little emulsion goes a lot further than when it is poured onto glass! I had only used about half before I ran out of space in the drawer unit. That’s good because I can find out whether I’ve brushed on too much or too little and come back later to do another batch.

I left the paper for a couple of days to dry in the drawer unit, although I suspect it would have been sufficient just to leave it overnight. Under a red safelight the dry paper was packed in opaque black plastic bags for storage until needed. I expect to expose and develop it in much the same way as normal photo paper.

Author: Donald Tainsh

A lifelong explorer of photography

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